LANSING, Mich. – In conjunction with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Lansing Lugnuts announced a 2013 roster headlined by teenage pitching prospects Roberto Osuna and Daniel Norris.
The 18-year-old Osuna, a free agent from Los Mochis, Mexico, and the 19-year-old Norris, a 2011 second round pick from Johnson City, Tennessee, are expected to bookend the Lugnuts’ starting rotation. They are the highest-ranked prospects on Lansing’s roster, rated as the #2 and #6 prospects respectively in the Jays’ system.
The duo will be joined in Lansing’s rotation by 6’5 left-hander Alonzo Gonzalez and standout right-handers Javier Avendaño and Taylor Cole.
Avendaño is one of nine returning Lugnuts to Cooley Law School Stadium, including slugging corner infielder Balbino Fuenmayor, who played for Lansing in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Other returning players include relievers Kramer Champlin and Ian Kadish; infielders Shane Opitz, Gustavo Pierre and Kellen Sweeney; and outfielders Chris Hawkins (the Blue Jays’ #28 prospect) and Dalton Pompey.
Besides Champlin and Kadish, Lansing’s bullpen is expected to feature 2010 second-rounder Griffin Murphy as the lone lefty in the pen, alongside right-handers Wil Browning, Tucker Donahue, Chuck Ghysels, converted infielder-turned-pitcher Matt Johnson, Arik Sikula and Ben White.
Highly-regarded 20-year-old Santiago Nessy, the Blue Jays’ #12 prospect, will serve as Lansing’s regular catcher, with Seth Conner and Leo Hernandez giving the Lugnuts three backstops on their roster.
In the infield, Fuenmayor, Opitz, Pierre and Sweeney are joined by slick-fielding newcomers Jorge Flores, Emilio Guerrero and Christian Lopes (Toronto’s #21 prospect), with the 5’5 Flores expected to start at shortstop and Lopes stationed at second base.
In the outfield, in addition to the switch-hitting Pompey and the powerful Hawkins, speedy Ronnie Melendez and promising Carlos Ramirez will patrol Jackson Field’s spacious dimensions.
Coming off an 82-55 campaign in 2012, the most successful regular season in franchise history, Lansing returns a coaching staff of reigning Midwest League Manager of the Year John Tamargo, Jr., pitching coach Vince Horsman and hitting coach Kenny Graham. Jason Dowse also returns as strength and conditioning coach, with Drew MacDonald serving his first year as team athletic trainer and Garrett Horan coming aboard as team video coordinator.
The Lansing Lugnuts open their 18th season in the Midwest League on April 4th at Lake County, before returning home to face the Michigan State Spartans in the Crosstown Showdown presented by Auto-Owners Insurance at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday, April 11th. Lugnuts tickets are available for purchase at lansinglugnuts.com and by calling 517-485-4500, and Lugnuts text alerts are easily accessed by texting LUGNUTS to 313131.